Emotional behaviour in childhood may be linked with heart disease in middle age, especially in women, research suggests.
A study found being prone to distress at the age of seven was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. Conversely, children who were better at paying attention and staying focused had reduced heart risk when older.
Study leader Dr Allison Appleton said more research would now be needed to work out the biological mechanism that may underpin the finding. “We know that persistent distress can cause dysregulation of the stress response and that is something we want to look at.” Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said it was already known that a child’s health could often have a bearing on their future wellbeing.
But she added that more research was needed before it could be clear that any possible link existed between emotions in childhood and the risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. “There are positive steps parents can take to protect their child’s future heart health. “What we learn when we’re young can often set the tone for our habits later in life, so teaching children about physical activity and a balanced diet is a great place to start.”